Samurai Commando Mission 1549 Review
It's so bad it's good; a statement true of many, many films. Contributing factors include outlandish plot contrivances, incredulous acting and laughable effects and whilst some will hail the offending product as a waste of time, others will laugh until it hurts, raising the films standing, it's so bad it's good. Though there is a very fine line between good bad and bad bad. Some films aim for it, others find it by accident and yet others still have it thrust upon them. Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 falls somewhere along this line, just the name and cover alone lead you to believe it can be 'so bad it's good' and indeed there are places when that does ring true, however, such was the makers intent that the material is taken seriously, it may have crossed the line and just be a bad film.
Samurai Commando is a reworking - not a remake - of the 1979 hit G.I. Samurai. The story involves an experiment to create a magnetic field capable of deflecting intense solar activity that renders all electronic equipment dead. During the test run a group of Self Defence Force (SDF) armoured personnel suddenly disappear. During the next two years black holes start developing and growing bigger on Earth sucking away light, energy and time itself, threatening the plant. The realisation is made that the SDF team that disappeared were not actually lost but transported back in time four hundred and fifty six years to 1547 to the Japanese Warring States Era, and that their action in the past are causing the black holes as time tries to correct itself. A second squadron is formed and sent back in time two years later to try and repair the damage and save the future. Once there they discover the SDF military leader has killed and set himself up as Nobunaga. He starts using his technology to refine crude oil for fuel (!) and has made a nuclear devise (!!) to force an eruption levelling Japan enabling him to create an alternate future for his country. While trying to stop this diabolical plan the second squadron is captured but find a useful ally in a young Tosuke, who manages to turn the tide of war, but with the bomb countdown started and minutes remaining before the timeslip reverses allowing the SDF to get back to their own time can the team save the future?
Without giving too much away, I'm pretty sure you can all guess the outcome. Time paradox stories are always fun, second guessing the future and the events that unfold due to actions has been the stuff of fantasy writers for years. And this is no exception, of course there are liberties taken, and there are contrivances used to get from one place to another, without them the story would make even less sense. As it is the film is rubbish. But it is not without its fun aspects. Battling horse backed soldiers against tanks is always fun to watch, but here is it all too brief. The real action happened off screen when the first SDF team was lost, we see a few flashbacks, and understand a little of the commanders motivation to alter the future for the country he loves. Otherwise the action is rather limited for the second squad as it has a policy of non interference and non lethal weaponry. Things do pick up towards the end with the storming of the stronghold, a great fusion of sword and guns there! I also liked the way it invoked real historical figures, Nobunaga did come close to unifying Japan and Tosuke did actually do it. However, when the film was bad is was really bad; extended scenes of exposition were tiresome, scenes between the warrior and the princess were long and drawn out; there was much made of personal sacrifice, from a soldier that we have had no time to care about, his dramatic death was cringe worthy in its excess (actually it was cut down too, alluded to in the extras, and thankfully it was!). The effects were pretty basic, CGI was clearly visible in places, and the sets, though solid were all rather small. However, the biggest problem was that the makers insist on taking the subject seriously, there is no comedy, campy or otherwise, and with such an outlandish story it needs something to put the fun in, because very quickly the film as a whole becomes rather dull. The few high points are not enough to sustain it, but are enough to keep it from being so bad it's good; as it is the film sits lost in a middle ground of rubbishy straight to DVD films that populate the bargain bins in your local outlet.